Four Texans charged in ID theft scheme involving fingerprint and background security clearance applicants
Four Waco area women have been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft in a scheme involving stolen Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) applications required by licensing and certification entities such as the Texas Education Agency.
A seven count federal grand jury indictment, returned on Tuesday and unsealed yesterday afternoon, charges 32-year-old Angela Cuellar, 38-year-old Yolanda Ramos, 33-year-old Diane Rivera and 29-year-old Christine Elifritz with one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft. Cuellar is also charged with six substantive aggravated identity theft counts; Elifritz and Ramos, one aggravated identity theft count.
The indictment alleges that from March 10, 2008, to July 27, 2008, Angela Cuellar was employed as a Live Scan Operator by Integrated Biometrics Technology (IBT), a company located in Waco which conducted fingerprint and background security clearances for applicants.
These applications included personal information such as social security numbers and dates of birth. When she left IBT, Cuellar stole thousands of background check applications she had processed, in violation of company policy that required her to destroy them. The indictment further alleges that the defendants used the stolen information to fraudulently obtain credit cards, open accounts and obtain goods and services from businesses throughout the United States.
The defendants remain in federal custody pending detention hearings scheduled for December 21, 2010. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, each defendant faces up to 15 years in federal prison. Cuellar, Elifritz and Ramos face a mandatory two-year federal prison term upon conviction of each aggravated identity theft charge. Each mandatory two-year prison term assessed will run consecutive to the prison term assessed for the conspiracy charge.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas